MAC Football Scoreboard: Thursday, August 29
Kent State 17, Liberty 10 Final
Ball State 51, Illinois State 28 Final
Bowling Green 34, Tulsa 7 Final
Central Florida 38, Akron 7 Final
Stories courtesy of MAC Athletic Communications Staffs
Kent State 17, Liberty 10 Final Final Stats
Kent, Ohio – A late 42-yard touchdown pass from Colin Reardon to Chris Humphrey helped Kent State escape a scare with a 17-10 victory over Liberty in Thursday night's season opener at Dix Stadium. Just to add a little more misery to the frightening first night, the Golden Flashes played most of the game without Heisman Trophy hopeful Dri Archer, who suffered an ankle injury while running out of the Wildcat formation on the season's first drive.
Archer returned for one play later in the quarter before sitting out the rest of the way.
"Of course, we had certain plays for him," said Paul Haynes, who won in his first game as Kent State's head coach. "When you don't have a guy like Dri out there, for a lot of reasons you have to change things up a little."
According to Haynes, Archer's injury is not believed to be serious.
In Archer's place, Reardon, Humphrey and Trayion Durham led a fourth-quarter comeback from a 10-7 deficit. Cornerback Darius Polk secured the win by defending three consecutive passes as the Flames marched into Kent State territory in the final minutes.
A 39-yard field goal by Anthony Melchiori, the first of his career, tied the game at 10-10 with 10:57 to play.
The game-winner arrived with just 4:28 remaining when Reardon found Humprhey near the 35-yard line. The junior wide receiver shed a Liberty tackle and raced down the Kent State sideline for his first career touchdown.
The final touchdown capped an impressive debut for Reardon, who completed 21-of-28 passes for 194 yards and two scores in his first game as a redshirt freshman.
"When you have your first start as a young kid, and you are able to drive the team down there for a win … that's a good start," said Haynes. "The (game) wasn't pretty, but a win is a win."
Durham helped to make up for the loss of Archer, rushing for 92 yards on 21 carries and picking up some tough inside yards to extend late drives. Humphrey added 88 yards on six catches, while Tyshon Goode pulled in eight passes for another 75 yards. Goode saw his first action since 2011 after missing all of last year with a hamstring injury.
Liberty marched into Kent State territory in the final minute, but Flames quarterback Josh Woodrum watched Polk spoil his last three passes. After perfect step-for-step coverage on a throw for the end zone, Polk batted away the final two throws to force a turnover on downs and allow Kent State to run out the game's final 1:30.
"I'm proud of the way we played. I liked the effort," said Liberty coach Turner Gill. "They played better than we did. They made more plays at the end and I have to tip my hat to Kent State."
Kent State scored first on a 14-play, 75-yard march that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Reardon to tight end Casey Pierce. It was the first career touchdown for both players.
Liberty battled back behind a 20-yard second-quarter field goal by John Lunsford, then took the lead on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Woodrum to Gabe Henderson.
A crowd of 20,790 watched the win and stayed for a post-game fireworks show presented by AMETEK. Kent State returns to action on Sept. 7 when Bowling Green visits Dix Stadium for a noon opener to Mid-American Conference play.
-Redshirt freshman Colin Reardon completed the first five passes of his college career. He finished 21-of-28 for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Reardon also ran for 38 yards.
-Junior tight end Casey Pierce made his first career touchdown catch on the opening drive.
-In first game back since 2011, Tyshon Goode made eight catches for 75 yards, including three catches on the opening drive.
-Junior Chris Humphrey's 42-yard touchdown catch was the longest play of his career and his first career score. His six catches and 88 receiving yards were career highs.
-Junior Trayion Durham eclipsed 90 rushing yards in a game for 11th time in his career.
-Sophomore Anthony Melchiori made his first career field goal in the fourth quarter from 39 yards out.
-Thursday was the first Kent State victory after trailing at the third quarter's end since 2008.
-The Golden Flashes extended their program-record home winning streak to nine games.
-Kent State's opening drive lasted 8:04.
-The Flashes' defense held Liberty without a first down until 6:00 remaining in the second quarter.
-The Flashes won their 12th straight game against an FCS opponent.
-Paul Haynes became the first Kent State head coach to win his debut since 1988.
-Kent State had a record-setting student attendance of 7,500.
Muncie, Ind. - The Ball State football team defeated Illinois State, 51-28, Thursday night at Scheumann Stadium in its season opener.
“We are very proud of our kids,” third-year head coach Pete Lembo says. “We beat a really good team tonight. Everybody kept their composure and nobody panicked. We had a great drive right before the half. There was no panic at halftime. We just went about our business and knew we were capable of playing better in the second half.”
After falling behind 21-9 late in the second quarter, the Cardinals scored 42 unanswered points before Illinois State added a late touchdown. Ball State’s 51 points marked the second time in its last four games the Cardinals have topped the 50-point mark.
“We have not had many wins by that margin in our first two years here,” Lembo says. “It is a good way to start. I think we beat a good team tonight. We have plenty to improve upon, but we came out of it relatively healthy. We certainly have plenty to fix, but this is where we are and it is not all bad. We are very realistic with where we are right now. We have to be humble and keep earning everything we get.”
Senior quarterback Keith Wenning accounted for five touchdowns in the game with three TD passes and two scoring runs. Wenning ended the contest with 340 yards, surpassing the 300-yard mark for the seventh time in his career.
Illinois State opened the scoring in the contest and increased its lead to 21-9 before Wenning connected on a 16-yard pass to Jordan Williams to close the gap to 21-16.
Wenning and Willie Snead then teamed up on back-to-back touchdown pass plays in the third quarter, lifting Ball State to a 30-21 lead. The first scoring strike was for nine yards, than Wenning found Snead across the middle for a 40-yard score and gave the Cardinals a nine point lead.
The game continued to go the Cardinals’ way on both sides of the ball, when linebacker Ben Ingle ran back the first interception of his career for 24 yards, which resulted in a three yard touchdown rush from Wenning, to put Ball State up 37-21 with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Horactio Banks, who tallied 43 rushing yards on 10 carries for the game, scored on a one yard run with just over eight minutes to play in the game and the Cardinals led 44-21. With 5:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jahwan Edwards rushed for six yards for a touchdown to cap the night off after Illinois State had fumbled its kickoff return which was recovered by cornerback Jeffery Garrett.
“We have a lot of new guys playing for us,” Lembo says. “Those guys are kind of feeling their way. Offensively, we had five new starters. We did not change a lot in the second half, we just executed better.”
Ball State will host Army Sat., Sept. 7, in its second game of the season before travelling to North Texas Sept. 14, for its first road contest of the year.
Bowling Green dominated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane during a 34-7 victory on Thursday night (Aug. 29) at Doyt L. Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The win, which was the Falcons' first-ever against Tulsa, exercised some recent demons in the series between the two teams and will undoubtedly gather notice across the Mid-American Conference and elsewhere. After all, Tulsa was a unanimous pick to win their division in the Conference USA preseason media poll.
The game was very short on offense during the first half for both teams, but it was clear from the very beginning that Tulsa could not get any traction against the BGSU defense.
Over the Golden Hurricane's first three drives, their offense tallied a total of nine yards in ten plays. On their fourth drive, which would ultimately be their longest of the game, they traveled 55 yards in ten plays, but that was helped immensely by a long 37-yard completion from Cody Green to Jordan James. The Falcons held after that play, and Tulsa missed a 37-yard field goal in an ominous sign of things to come.
Twice more in the first half, Tulsa traveled deep into BGSU territory only to be turned away with no points. After an interception, Green guided Tulsa to the Falcons' 18 and then completed a pass to Derek Patterson, who ran to the 11 before BooBoo Gates forced a fumble that Aaron Foster recovered at the 2-yard line.
Tulsa forced a quick punt and began their next drive on the Bowling Green 33. Two plays later, they were at the 12-yard line, but the Falcon defense rose again. Over the next three plays, Tulsa lost five yards, and Carl Salazar missed the ensuing 34-yard field goal.
The Falcons' offense did not fare much better in the first half. After going 1-for-4 on the first two series, which gained only 31 yards, Matt Schilz gave way to backup Matt Johnson. On his first drive, Johnson drove the team 41 yards in nine plays before Tyler Tate kicked a 34-yard field goal.
After withstanding Tulsa's two drives deep into Falcon territory, Johnson followed the second missed field goal with an artistic 16-play, 70-yard drive. Again, it stalled inside the red zone, but Tyler Tate kicked a 28-yard field goal with 0:02 left in the second quarter to give BGSU a 6-0 halftime lead.
The second half belonged entirely to Bowling Green.
The Orange and Brown took the second half kickoff as a touchback. Six plays later, the Falcons were in the end zone. Including an illegal block penalty that set BGSU back 15 yards, the team romped 90 yards down the field. Included was a 37-yard run by Ronnie Moore, 12- and 10-yard runs by Travis Greene, and passes of 19 and 11 yards to Shaun Joplin and Chris Gallon. Freshman running back William Houston capped off the drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
The Golden Hurricane and Bowling Green traded punts over the next four drives, resulting in Tulsa getting the ball at their own 7-yard line with 2:01 left in the third quarter. After three plays and nine yards, Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship rolled the dice and faked a punt. Cameron Truss held punter Cole Way to no gain, and the Falcons took over at the Tulsa 16.
Four plays later, just 1:08 into the fourth quarter, Houston recorded his second one-yard touchdown run of the game to give BGSU a 20-0 lead. The sequence following the touchdown effectively ended the game.
Tulsa drove to the Falcons' 44 and faced a 4th-and-13 on the ensuing drive. Green threw an incomplete pass, and BGSU took over with 11:56 left. Bowling Green was forced to punt, but Schmiedebusch's kick drove Tulsa returner Trey Watts to his own 10-yard line, where he muffed the punt. Gates recovered at the Tulsa 8, and two plays later, Houston scored his third (and final) one-yard touchdown run of the night. That gave BGSU a 27-0 lead.
On their next drive, Tulsa ran three plays and was again forced to punt. Way's kick was taken in by Ryan Burbrink at the BGSU 33, and he took it all the way for a touchdown. The 67-yard return gave the Falcons their final points and a 34-0 lead.
Tulsa's final possession was a quick five-play, 50-yard drive that ended in a 27-yard Dane Evans-to-Derek Patterson connection for a touchdown that produced the final 34-7 margin. Bowling Green took the kickoff and ran out the final 5:49 in eight plays.
Bowling Green's defense allowed just 273 total yards on 65 plays. They also held Tulsa to just 51 rushing yards in 24 attempts for a 2.1 yards/carry average. In 2012, Tulsa ran for 245.7 yards per game and a 5.0 per carry average. They also had just 12 first downs and only 21:13 of possession time.
The Falcons were the rushing beasts in this game. BGSU ran for 233 yards on 53 carries, which led the team to 396 total yards. The ball-control offense produced 23 first downs and a 38:47 time of possession.
Individually, Travis Green led the way with 22 carries for 88 yards. Houston's three touchdowns were part of a 10-carry, 29-yard effort. Matt Johnson added 50 yards rushing at quarterback, and Ronnie Moore ran for 42 yards. Freshman Fred Coppet added 27 yards of his own.
After replacing Schilz, Johnson went 11-for-23 for 151 yards and one interception. His 11 completions went to seven different receivers. Gallon had three catches for 31 yards, while Joplin, Burbrink and Tyler Beck each had two.
Defensively, BooBoo Gates, along with Cam Truss and Paul Swan, led the Falcons with seven tackles. Gates also had a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Kendall Montgomery had the team's lone sack, although six different players combined for five tackles-for-loss.
Tulsa's individual leaders include Cody Green, who went 17-for-34 for 172 yards. Ja'Terian Douglas led all Tulsa runners with 12 carries for 22 yards. Trey Watts had only four carries for a net of eight yards. Watts did have five catches for 33 yards. Keyarris Garrett also had five receptions, for a total of 54 yards.
Bowling Green (1-0) now turns their attention to Mid-American Conference play for a week. The Falcons' next game is next Saturday (Sept. 7) at Kent State in a key Eastern Division match-up. Game time is 12:00pm, and the game will be on ESPN Regional television.
* Ryan Burbrink's 67-yard punt return in the fourth quarter was his first career touchdown.
* William Houston's three touchdowns were the first of his career.
* BGSU improved to 65-26-4 all-time in home openers and 49-39-7 in season openers. BGSU is 5-0 in home openers under Dave Clawson.
* BGSU improved to 1-3 all-time against Tulsa, avenging losses to the Golden Hurrican in 2007 and 2010.
* The Falcons ranked sixth in the country a year ago, allowing just 296 yards per game. Thursday night, BGSU gave up just 273 yards.
* BGSU improved to 5-0 in the past two years when rushing for at least 200 yards. The 233 yards rushing is the third-most for the team in that stretch.
* By allowing just 51 yards rushing, the Falcons have allowed less than 100 yards on the ground in all of their nine wins in 2012 and 2013.
* Ryan Burbrink's 67-yard punt return for a touchdown was the first such score since BooBoo Gates had an 80-yard punt return touchdown against Rhode Island a year ago.
Orlando, Fla. – The University of Akron football team dropped a 38-7 decision to UCF on Thursday in the season opener for both squads at Bright House Networks Stadium. UCF (1-0) led 24-0 at halftime and scored on a pair of short runs in the third quarter to make up its final tally.
Akron (0-1) spoiled the shutout in the final minute of the contest when backup quarterback Nick Hirschman connected with Imani Davis on an 11-yard strike. That concluded a 10-play, 77-yard drive for the Zips, who ended the night with 250 yards of total offense.
Hirschman was 2-of-4 passing for the game, with the final series serving as his only action. Starting UA quarterback Kyle Pohl completed 16-of-21 passes for 98 yards and threw one interception.
Freshman Fransohn Bickley led the Akron receiving corps with three catches for 26 yards, while fellow rookie Mykel Traylor-Bennett had 25 yards on three catches. Conor Hundley rushed for 50 yards on 10 attempts, with much of his production coming after intermission.
Blake Bortles led the Knights offense, completing 18-of-24 passes for 314 yards and three TDs. His favorite target for the night was Breshad Perriman, who had three catches for 113 yards and one touchdown reception.
The Knights opened the scoring on the second play of the game when Bortles connected on a 91-yard pass to Perriman, then Bortles finished a 12-play, 91-yard series by finding Rannell Hall on the end of a 19-yard pass late in the first quarter.
Both Jatavis Brown and Justin March had a team-high six tackles for the Zips, while Nico Caponi had two sacks. Nordly Capi and Dylan Evans also posted one sack apiece for UA.
Akron takes on James Madison in its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 7 at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.